Tag Archives: path of the present

As Long As There Is Light

For me, mindfulness is the source of infinite possibilities. In mining the details of the present, I set up my options for the future. Yet, nothing stays, even in stone.

I like the fluidity of the present but the past is immutable. Once, I spent a lot of time there but rarely do I visit now, which does not keep my mind from offering.

Memory after memory rolls by; action captured as still life. Mindfulness through a philosophical perspective.

However, my reality on this day is anything but abstract. My physical pain is beyond the distraction level, and it shows no sign of abating.

Recent lab report results support the presence of increased inflammation and the ever-present chronic anemia.

I don’t usually post on such a day but working with the reality I have–every day–is the purpose of Aim For Even (AFE).

For decades, I lost days and jobs trying to rest so that the days to come would be better. Sometimes, that took months or even years. In chronic illness, rest is elusive. The body is at war. Mine is fighting itself and has been for four decades.

Some seven years ago I began working with my day-to-day reality rather than discarding a day because I could not meet expectations. I immersed myself in the experience of being chronically ill–“sat with it” through hours of mindful meditation.

It is a practice I never left.

I try to bring an evenness of mind into the experience of my day. It requires an ongoing adjustment of my energy. It means I must stay present, no matter what. That’s AFE.

I am old and have not aged well. And yes, that once swallowed hard. I no longer look at my face in terms of how it may be filtered but as is. There is still light in my eyes.

I want to live the rest of my life a #DailyDose at a time, preferably with equanimity. I fail on so many days. Still, I immerse myself completely into any activity–even the most mundane—it is how I learn another way, find a new option, or my perspective broadens.

In equanimity, there is space for signals from both body and mind. I am not transcending either one but sitting with both. I know my pain level will change— life is impermanent— I choose not to attach to that pain nor do I avoid its presence.

I make room for it. Rather than rising and falling with the peaks and valleys of pain, I meet it at its base. Impermanence will do the rest.

In some ways, change has lost its edge for me, not that I don’t give it respect. I do. I don’t fear it. Indeed, in my more philosophical moments, I wonder why I ever did.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

The Essence of Mirage

If equanimity opens me to the colors of the day, mindfulness provides the canvas. These are my daily tools, and I keep them close. If I do not, ego will send me in search of something so promising that to escape the day seems my only choice.

As well, I am provided 1001 reasons why inattentiveness to the day and its requirements is my best course. Sometimes this is true but mostly, it is a mirage.

Ego is formidable and endless but acknowledging–not avoiding or attaching–to such strong desire is the pause I need. I go to a poem, albeit one of a Victorian girl new to dreams. No matter; its essence provides what I need.

Mirage

The hope I dreamed of was a dream,

Was but a dream; and now I wake

Exceeding comfortless, and worn, and old,

For a dream’s sake.

I hang my harp upon a tree,

A weeping willow in a lake;

I hang my silenced harp there, wrung and snapt

For a dream’s sake.

Lie still, lie still, my breaking heart;

My silent heart, lie still and break:

Life, and the world, and mine own self, are changed

For a dream’s sake.

Christina Rossetti (c. 1842)

The line that lingers is “life, and the world, and mine own self, are changed.” It is what I need for this day, the day I have, and I am attentive to its canvas.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Looking Into the Eyes of Childhood

In preparation for our mother’s memorial service, I am scanning photographs. It has been some time since I opened these albums. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I looked.

I am trying to decide which images best represent those early years. I find myself looking into everyone’s eyes–all full of love and innocence.

But I see something else when I look into my childhood eyes.

Usually, I assign an adult mind and motives to the self I was at six or seven years old. It skews memories, maybe even hides some. Mostly, it assigns judgment but as an observer, my perspective is open.

In some of these photos, I am 60+ years older than the child I see. In looking into her eyes, there is no rush of memory. There is only the scene in front of me, an individual image.

I look with love and find it anew in each scene. Not reliving but observing only what is in the photograph. I spend hours.

I feel completely present in these captured moments of my life. I’m not so much aware of thought as I am aware of the child’s eyes, and the look on her face. She is confident. I don’t think she knows any differently. It makes me smile.

In myriad ways, I will keep that confidence. I will not always use it wisely, especially when I equate confidence with control. Sometimes, I will claim it when I feel nothing at all.

In my 65th year, I am grateful for my six-year-old self. She has brought me to this moment and will take me into what comes next.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

The Quiet That Is Courage

So often I forget the quiet that is courage, having been deafened by my own roar.

Every particle of creation sings its own song

of what is and what is not.

Hearing what is can make you wise;

hearing what is not can drive you mad.

 (Sufi poet Ghalib)

And so I do drive myself mad, tilting at windmills, believing I am changing the world, although how I could not say.

To stray outside the moment is to engage in such madness, and I do it many times each day. As well, however, I know those moments of being present, of realizing the miracle of life is in its unfolding.  

snowy-egret-110311

It is more than believing in miracles, although that helps. It is trusting in all that I am and am not. Do I choose fear or courage? Do I want to seize upon a grievance, reveal my self-righteousness, and shout it from the rafters?

Or do I want to take a breath and trust in life itself, in me.

Loving [ourselves] requires a courage unlike any other.

 It requires us to believe in and stay loyal to something

no one else can see that keeps

us in the world—our own self-worth.

 (Mark Nepo, Book of Awakening).

Every day is an opening night. I take a breath and take the stage. In each moment, I play to applause or catcalls. And with each curtain, I rest.

My next major scene is hip replacement surgery at the beginning of next week so there will be a pause in these posts. I am told the scenes following the surgery will be ones of learning to walk again.

I will have to listen closely, ignore the roar of fear, and settle in to the quiet of courage.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

I’ll Take the Unknown

Rebecca Solnit says the unknown is where the “most important things come from,” where we all came from and where we will return. She advises we leave this “door into the dark” open.  

The more present I am, the more I agree with her. To be in the moment is to walk through the door of equanimity, open to the experience it offers.

As similar as some moments are, no two are the same so there is always the element of the unknown, no matter how we might try to anticipate it.

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The more present I am, the fewer anxieties I have. Immersing myself in each moment is its own preparation for whatever comes next.  My mind might stretch forward and look back but it is my breath that takes me into the present.  

Breathing is not magic; no moment will disappear. In the pause between breaths, I find perspective. It’s an amazing tool, this taking in and letting go of breath, and it has a lifetime guarantee.  

It is hard work to stay present, which is not to forget the past or to have no regard for the future. Rather, the present provides context for what was and possibility for what might be. 

Mark Nepo called breathing the “fundamental unit of risk.” Perhaps walking through the door of equanimity is risky but I’ll take the unknown.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Framing the Daily Dose

Every day is a blank slate, if we greet it empty of the experience of yesterday.

Some time ago, I purchased a blank slate—chalkboard—as a visual, tactile reminder. It matters not whether I note an experience in chalk dust.

blank-slate-at-an-angle-0116It is the image that frames my daily dose.

My day is not a chalkboard checklist; it is an ever adjusting energy—an aim for equanimity–amidst the swirl of chalk dust.

I cannot imagine an equanimity environment that does not begin as blank. Literally and figuratively, my slate opens me to the moment, ready to be written upon–perhaps, even to change.

Out of the dust of one experience another emerges, ephemeral but never-ending.

When my slate is no longer blank–chalk dust full of moments past–I wipe it clean. Often, I think of the sand mandala. My slate is not the precise beauty or the complete story of the mandala nor will it ever be.

Mine is a single day in the practice of equanimity, life in the moment, trusting in the transitory.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity in daily doses. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is.  You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page. 

 

 

 

Attachment: Going All In

Some mornings, as I awake to the day, I meet “monkey mind,” zigzagging in and out of what prove to be irresistible thoughts. What a storyline it creates; I go all in and attach.

Every time, it’s the storyline that hooks me. Sometimes, attachment (shenpa) is a daylong experience of escape, one wearying moment after another.

Hiding Mashes Sands 1013

It is how this day has begun. It is the day I have.

Taking a breath, I aim for even. I veer right and overcorrect to the left before getting stuck in another storyline that takes me deeper into fear. I’m completely caught up in escaping this day,  following one “what if” after another.

My morning yoga practice is tight, like a bud, my body stuck in imbalance. As with meditation, I breathe into each movement, remembering to soften the tightness with my breath (Peggy Cappy).

Awareness of the breath is the path of the present. I open to the moment. It’s the real deal, story enough.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity in daily doses. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is.  You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.